Short Meditations in Philippians: 4. Long-term Goal
Phil 1:10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ
In the previous study we considered Paul’s desire for these people, that they may know and abound in love more and more, abound more and more in the knowledge of the Lord and His will, His plans and purposes for us. Now in this verse above he focuses us on what I have called a long-term goal, a way that this love we were considering may be expressed in the remaining years of our lives.
Now we may think, when we first think about these things, that the long-term goal of being filled with love is to love those around us, but actually we forget that the first commandment (according to Jesus) is all about loving God and then the second commandment is about loving others. So how do we express our love towards the Lord? Is it by going to church, is it by worshipping Him?
Those things are certainly legitimate but according to the apostle John, we express our love for God when we obey Him: “this is love for God: to keep his commands.” (1 John 5:3) Now His commandments come to us in two ways: directly through His word (and that may be as we read it or as we hear it preached) or as it comes to us by the prompting and directing of His Holy Spirit within us. When we catch that ‘inner nudge’, such as, “Give to that homeless person ahead of you,” or “Encourage that member at church,” or “Just listen to him/her,” THAT is His command to us and love responds and obeys (AND expresses love).
Now see the various facets of this verse which comes from the previous verse and “knowledge and insight”. That knowledge and insight enables us to “discern what is best”. Best? In whose eyes? God’s of course, and we do that as we respond obediently to Him. It is not merely what is ‘good’ but the best. Best implies the ultimate of what is good. It’s top of the list of the things that could be. This is why the Word alone is inadequate. We need Word and Spirit and the latter shines on the Word to reveal to us (give us insight) what is the best path ahead of us.
Christians sometimes complain that they don’t get God’s guidance. Well perhaps they do but don’t realise it, but they would realise it or understand it if they studied His word more, and then the Holy Spirit would shine on that revelation and make the way clear. Do you see the order? Knowledge & insight (v.9b), leads to discerning what is best (v.10), which opens the way for obedience. And what does this do? It ensures we “may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”, i.e. we can be confident that when we come face to face with the Lord, He will smile and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mt 25:21)